A social perspective on theory of mind

Claire Hughes, R.T. Devine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter provides a detailed review of research on individual differences in theory of mind and is organized into four major sections. In the first section, we adopt a historical approach in order to introduce key theoretical accounts of theory of mind and trends that have led to the study of individual differences. In the second section, we propose that seven distinct lines of research provide converging support for the view that social experiences shape individual differences in children's understanding of mind. In the third section, we consider two cognitive domains (executive function and language) that each show robust associations with theory of mind and examine the possible interplay of these factors and children's social experiences. In the fourth section, we outline the emerging literature on the social and academic consequences of individual differences in theory of mind. Overall, we conclude that individual differences in theory of mind are stable, measurable across a wide age range, reflect the complex interplay of social and cognitive factors, and are meaningful for children's social lives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science
Subtitle of host publicationSocial, Emotional and Personality Development
EditorsMichael Lamb, Richard Lerner
Place of PublicationHoboken, NJ
ISBN (Electronic)9781118963418
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2015


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